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Vivitar History
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:27 am    Post subject: Vivitar History Reply with quote

I've been working on updating the Vivitar page of Camera-wiki.org - it was woefully inaccurate and incomplete when we transitioned from the old Camerapedia database and I'm hoping to fix that.

Does anyone know of a good book on the history of Vivitar? I've been able to piece together a rough outline of their history from newspaper and magazine articles drawn from the Google print archive but I'd like to go into more detail. Strangely I found books covering the history of most major camera and lens companies but not much on Vivitar!

Also I'm curious is anyone knows what happened to Vivitar's business papers and records. By the time Sakar bought Vivitar, it was just a logo and brand name; any physical materials were already long gone. I'm hoping perhaps the original Vivitar consigned some of their documentation to a University archive. Or perhaps a private researcher somewhere was able to obtain some of it? Things like records of which companies manufactured which lenses, for example, would be very valuable to document.

Anyway, the current article is still very incomplete but you can find it here:

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Vivitar

Corrections and additions are welcome!


Last edited by steevithak on Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:19 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sadly, the link you posted doesn't work for me. Sad


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:53 am    Post subject: Re: Vivitar History Reply with quote

steevithak wrote:
I've been working on updating the Vivitar page of Camera-wiki.org - it was woefully inaccurate and incomplete when we transitioned from the old Camerapedia database and I'm hoping to fix that.

Does anyone know of a good book on the history of Vivitar? I've been able to piece together a rough outline of their history from newspaper and magazine articles drawn from the Google print archive but I'd like to go into more detail. Strangely I found books covering the history of most major camera and lens companies but not much on Vivitar!

Also I'm curious is anyone knows what happened to Vivitar's business papers and records. By the time Sakar bought Vivitar, it was just a logo and brand name; any physical materials were already long gone. I'm hoping perhaps the original Vivitar consigned some of their documentation to a University archive. Or perhaps a private researcher somewhere was able to obtain some of it? Things like records of which companies manufactured which lenses, for example, would be very valuable to document.

Anyway, the current article is still very incomplete but you can find it here:

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Vivitar

Corrections and additions are welcome!


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

killwilly wrote:
Sadly, the link you posted doesn't work for me. Sad


He is a first time poster that is why the link dosen't work. Click on the link where I quoted him.


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not sure anyone would have written one?

As far as I know, AFAIK, they like Hanimex, Quantaray, had their badge attached to mainly cheap but sometimes very high quality lenses and flashes and even a body or two!

There are references on this forum in particular, to online resources.

We would all like to see what you do produce and you may find particular statements amplified or contradicted by some of our diverse and expert members?


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having read the article, it looks pretty good?

Others may disagree!

The only problem I can see, is the well documented 70-210 lenses. There were six versions, the one you mention being the most common, but arguably not the best. You will find their serial numbers and designs online. The real manufacturers have serial numbers showing their responsibility.

Just google?


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smile Good page.

Last edited by casualcollector on Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:59 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The only problem I can see, is the well documented 70-210 lenses. There were six versions, the one you mention being the most common


Yes, the listing of individual lenses is still very incomplete and almost none of the lenses are documented with specs and photos yet. I hope to start working on that once I get the corporate history fleshed out a little more.

In fact, I need to post some photos here of one my own lenses. I picked up one that's supposedly "rare" - a Vivitar Professional 180mm f2.8, M42 mount lens. Several used camera dealers I've shown it to claim it was some sort of prototype lens and only a few copies exist but I've not been able to find any definitive documentation on it anywhere (yet). Once I get some good photos of it, I'll post a separate thread here on it.


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome Steevithak!

It good to see you willing to make serious effort to share Vivitar history. I look forward your result , finger crossed to get great success! Sadly my knowledge is very limited I can't help to you much.


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

steevithak wrote:
Quote:
The only problem I can see, is the well documented 70-210 lenses. There were six versions, the one you mention being the most common


Yes, the listing of individual lenses is still very incomplete and almost none of the lenses are documented with specs and photos yet. I hope to start working on that once I get the corporate history fleshed out a little more.

In fact, I need to post some photos here of one my own lenses. I picked up one that's supposedly "rare" - a Vivitar Professional 180mm f2.8, M42 mount lens. Several used camera dealers I've shown it to claim it was some sort of prototype lens and only a few copies exist but I've not been able to find any definitive documentation on it anywhere (yet). Once I get some good photos of it, I'll post a separate thread here on it.


Welcome. I once had over 165 Vivitar lenses as a collection but their history is not something I'm that well versed in. I applaud your efforts and hope you have success. If you ever get around to it see if you can find anything on the chrome nose Vivitars. They are among some of the rare ones. Also the 2 window preset 250mm lens.

The chrome nose family.





PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A great idea. Glad someone is doing this.


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The chrome nose family.


Wow, interesting. Has anyone figured out a general break down of all the "families" of Vivitar lenses that are out there?

At present I've broken the lens listing down strictly by how they were branded over time:


    P&B
    P&B Vivitar
    Vivitar Professional
    Vivitar
    Vivitar Series 1


The problem of course is that 90% of the lenses fall into the "Vivitar" group and there were all sorts different types, such as your chrome nose family, in there. It would be cool if we could sort out which families exist and how to identify them.

Heh, and then there's problem of discovering who manufactured each individual lens. :)


PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I consider this to be a worthwhile undertaking and better done sooner rather than later because as time passes, some of the information, which may only be held in the heads of former employees, will be forever lost as they pass.

I would begin a search for former Vivitar employees and start by asking them. I don't exactly know how I'd do this -- maybe facebook? Maybe some facebook-savvy sons or daughters or grandsons or granddaughters of some Vivitar employees will remember and can get you in touch with them? I suspect that there may have been more than a few loyal employees who saw the end coming and decided to start their own archives of the company's accomplishments. These are the folks you want to find. I'll wager a good many of former Vivitar employees may have kept as personal mementos information about the company that might not otherwise be available.

I can recall that, back in about 1990, they still had a facility in the Los Angeles area -- somewhere in the North Hollywood area to be more specific. I actually bought a nice set of screwdrivers and a lens spanner from them back then. I can recall that, at the time, I was surprised that Vivitar was selling camera repair tools. I still have that spanner and those screwdrivers, too. Cool


PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

steevithak wrote:
Quote:
The chrome nose family.


Wow, interesting. Has anyone figured out a general break down of all the "families" of Vivitar lenses that are out there?

At present I've broken the lens listing down strictly by how they were branded over time:


    P&B
    P&B Vivitar
    Vivitar Professional
    Vivitar
    Vivitar Series 1


The problem of course is that 90% of the lenses fall into the "Vivitar" group and there were all sorts different types, such as your chrome nose family, in there. It would be cool if we could sort out which families exist and how to identify them.

Heh, and then there's problem of discovering who manufactured each individual lens. Smile


Not just by families but also by Serial number families. Such as the 5XXXX Preset family, the 6XXXX Preset family and the 7XXXX Preset families as well as the Bright Band family and the One Window Preset family. Then there is the Pyramid Preset lens. Most of these do not fall into the post 1970 serial number groups so I have often wondered who made them.

Pyramid Preset.





200mm Bright Band.



PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
I would begin a search for former Vivitar employees and start by asking them.


I agree with Michael's suggestion. There are likely to be some individuals still around with a wealth of information, although knowledge of the older days will probably require digging further for survivors.

This is a really nice start - actually, more than just a start. Is your lens list intended to be comprehensive? There are some missing and maybe an error or two. Do you intend to link to pictures of the lenses themselves? Big Dawg will be a good resource for many pictures I would expect. I have some too.

It hasn't been mentioned, so I'll ask if you're aware of the seriel number sceme for identifying manufacturers (during one extensive period)?


PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
This is a really nice start - actually, more than just a start. Is your lens list intended to be comprehensive? There are some missing and maybe an error or two. Do you intend to link to pictures of the lenses themselves?


Yes, my hope is that some day it will be comprehensive. Several Camera-wiki editors including myself have been adding lenses as we find info on them and trying to correct errors as we find them. Correcting errors is the priority, so definitely point out any you see.

We're just beginning to expand from cameras to lenses at Camera-wiki but we hope to include a full page on each lens with photos, specs, and historical information. We draw our photos from the camera-wiki.org flickr group, and we've already gotten a lot of submissions of Vivitar photos but there are still many lenses we don't have photos for. Feel free to submit any you've got and I'll try to get pages started for those lenses. You can browse our flickr group directly if you want, it's got about 35k photos of vintage camera gear that's been submitted by contributors all over the world:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/camerawiki/

Quote:
It hasn't been mentioned, so I'll ask if you're aware of the seriel number sceme for identifying manufacturers (during one extensive period)?


Yes, I'm aware of it. There's a separate group of editors at Camera-Wiki trying to assemble serial number info like that on a wide range of camera gear. I'll check with them and see if they've added the Vivitar info. I need to mention it on the Vivitar page somewhere too.


PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tracked down what may be the only book ever written on Vivitar. It's called

The Vivitar Guide, A Manual for all Vivitar 35mm Accessories
by John C. Wolf.
ISBN: 0-87165-065-7 (hardback)

There's also a paperback version:
ISBN: 0-87165-066-5

Not a lot of history about the company itself but it has some nice tables of the later lenses like the TX family and Series 1 family and some of the other fixed mount lenses. Lots of photos of lenses too.


PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been a while since I updated this thread but I thought some of you might be curious about my progress in researching Vivitar's history. It took a while but I did succeed at contacting several ex-employees of Ponder & Best. I've continued updating the Vivitar pages at Camera-Wiki.org and I just posted the first of what I hope will be a series of Vivitar historical articles in the Camera-Wiki.org blog. The first post concerns the origins of the Series 1 lenses. If you're interested you can check out these links:

Camera-Wiki.org main Vivitar page:
http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Vivitar

Camera-Wiki.org blog - Vivitar Historical Research Part 1 : The origin of the Series 1 Lenses and the Macro Zoom
http://blog.camera-wiki.org/2012/03/13/vivitar-historical-research-part-1/

-Steve


PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you do the Vivitar Wiki ?
Its very fine indeed, a great resource.


PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:14 am    Post subject: Re: Vivitar History Reply with quote

steevithak wrote:
Strangely I found books covering the history of most major camera and lens companies but not much on Vivitar!

can you post the list of those books?


PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Vivitar History Reply with quote

WolverineX wrote:
steevithak wrote:
Strangely I found books covering the history of most major camera and lens companies but not much on Vivitar!

can you post the list of those books?


Here's a list of many of the English language books that have been used as reference material by Camera-Wiki.org editors. I also found many books in my local library on specific manufacturers in Germany and Japan:

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Sources:_English_language

-Steve


PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you know that the recent Samyang 1.4/85 has been marketed also under the name of Vivitar?
I ask because I gave a quick look to your list and perhaps it has escaped my very fast scanning, but I did not see it.


PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:41 pm    Post subject: Vivitar Auto Wide-Angle 35mm f/2.8 (M42, 52mm filter size) Reply with quote

Great work!! i have subj lens, but i can't find it in list.


PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Vivitar History Reply with quote

steevithak wrote:
WolverineX wrote:
steevithak wrote:
Strangely I found books covering the history of most major camera and lens companies but not much on Vivitar!

can you post the list of those books?


Here's a list of many of the English language books that have been used as reference material by Camera-Wiki.org editors. I also found many books in my local library on specific manufacturers in Germany and Japan:

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Sources:_English_language

-Steve


thank you, very much Very Happy


PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orio wrote:
Do you know that the recent Samyang 1.4/85 has been marketed also under the name of Vivitar?
I ask because I gave a quick look to your list and perhaps it has escaped my very fast scanning, but I did not see it.


I've been debating how to handle lenses like that one. There's also a Vivitar-branded fisheye I've seen lately. Vivitar (the company) went out of business in 2008 but the brand rights were purchased and continue to be used for a variety of equipment including lenses. I expect we'll create a separate section for listing the newer gear. My main focus (no put intended) right now is on trying to document older gear that's of interest to collectors.